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Series connects TV audiences across borders

By Qin Zhongwei in Yangon | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-18 07:48

Watching Journey to the West, a classic Chinese TV series filmed in the 1980s, is one of Moe Aung Yin's fondest childhood memories. This particular pastime of the 26-year-old actor and pop star from Myanmar is widely shared with many of his generation.

Born in Yangon and educated in an international school, Moe Aung Yin said, "I love Wu Kong so much!", referring to the Monkey King, a famous fictional character in the series that describes the legendary pilgrimage of a Buddhist monk and his three disciples to India.

The 1980s and early 1990s were the heyday for Chinese TV programs in Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, and people were crazy about Chinese action films and TV series featuring ancient tales or myths.

Figures such as Justice Bao, a righteous "Sherlock Holmes" figure in ancient Chinese history, and action stars like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee were all household names at the time.

In early February, a crew of six actors and radio hosts from Myanmar, including Moe Aung Yin, came to Beijing for two months to dub the newest Chinese TV series to be introduced to Myanmar, The Happy Life of Jin Tai Lang, a light comedy about modern Chinese family life.

The crew hopes to bring a fresh perspective on China and Chinese life to its Myanmarese audience.

A joint project between the two countries, the series first aired on Myanmar's MRTV in June and will be the first Chinese TV series ever to be dubbed in Myanmarese.

"We are so excited to be making history," said Moe Aung Yin. As one of the country's most famous movie actors and pop stars, he has starred in more than 14 films. Though he typically plays comedy roles, this time, he dubbed the voice of an authoritative Chinese father figure.

The new series, selected from dozens of Chinese projects, should appeal to Myanmarese tastes. It shows the ups and downs of modern Chinese family life, according to Dong Jie, director in charge of the transcript. The Myanmarese audience will be able to recognize similar situations in their own lives, she said.

The family comedy is centered on a newlywed couple and their joys and quarrels with extended family. The new husband tries to keep everyone happy and plays the role of peacemaker between his wife and mother-in-law.

Dong, who works for China Radio International's Myanmar language department, said the foreign TV series that now dominate Myanmar television are mostly from South Korea or Japan and feature a "modern Cinderella" kind of soap opera romance.

"Because Myanmar culture cherishes family harmony, this show is most fitting," she said. Other shows were abandoned for being too romantic or for depicting graphic hospital operations, both of which might have made Myanmarese audiences uncomfortable, she added.

The members of the dubbing crew said they are already fans of the TV series.

"After dubbing was finished on one episode, I could not wait to watch the next," said Yin Yin Shwe, a radio host.

But what is even more interesting and important is what both sides have in common, according to Thiri Shinn Thant, a Myanmar actress. "Chinese parents are so concerned about their children in every aspect, but so are Myanmar people," she said.

(China Daily 06/18/2013 page10)

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